Mall Gets The (L.L. Bean) Boot

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L.L. Bean, of Freeport, Maine, officially opens its doors at the Danbury Fair Mall this weekend.
L.L. Bean, of Freeport, Maine, officially opens its doors at the Danbury Fair Mall this weekend. Photo Credit: Julie Curtis

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — A notable piece of Maine is hiking into Fairfield County. L.L. Bean, the venerable outdoor outfitter company, is officially opening its doors this weekend at the Danbury Fair Mall.

Founded in a basement in Freeport, Maine, a century ago by avid outdoorsman Leon Leonwood Bean, the company now has retail outlets throughout the Northeast as well as in Japan and China.

The company’s uncommon customer service trademark for its products — a lifetime money-back guarantee – began with one of its original and still extant products, the Maine Hunting Shoe, now known as the “Bean Boot,” which was sold through a four-page mail order catalog.

The original version had a manufacturing defect, and the company allowed its customers to receive a full refund if they returned the defective product; a full 90 percent of the boots sold turned out to be defective. Since then, the eponymously named company has guaranteed all its products.

Today’s marketing and sales techniques are decidedly large scale. The company has grown from a one-man operation to a global organization, with annual sales of $1.44 billion. L.L. Bean’s order fulfillment centers in Freeport have the capacity to store more than 10 million units of merchandise as well to process an average of 50,000 customer orders per day. In 2011, the company shipped nearly 13 million packages on a single day.

In Danbury this weekend, the focus of the grand opening will be considerably less universal, with events such as gift-card giveaways, lessons on basic compass and map navigation, a discussion on “The Basics of Birding,” as well as a live birds of prey demonstration, complete with ravens, falcons, hawks and owls.

So, take a hike over to the L.L. Bean store and enjoy spending part of the day in a Maine mainstay.

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Comments (2)

From my experience, L.L. Bean's customer service has slipped in recent years, at least when ordering online or speaking with associates over the phone. I’ve had two consecutive major snafus with Christmas orders. When I attempted to resolve the latest one with L.L. Bean's customer service staff I received dismissive, indifferent and rude responses, with no satisfactory resolution offered. I persevered (read: jumped through many time-consuming and frustrating hoops) and on my own found a terrific manager who resolved my problem. After the holildays, I reported the entire situation to the CEO Chris McCormick's office and I still did not receive satisfaction. The representative from the CEO's office was polite, but when his formulaic response did not impress me he became defensive and was ultimately unhelpful. He finally asked me what he could do to get me to resume shopping at L.L. Bean, and I replied that an apology from Mr. McCormick would be nice; I received a very general, corporate, noncommittal and perfunctory-- and thoroughly disappointing letter. I did not consider it an apology. Thus, after many years of doing business with L.L. Bean, I decided to use my consumer power and take my business elsewhere!

Hi Citizen Jeanne,

Thank you for responding to the story. That's an interesting anecdote. Do you think proximity to the new store might change your mind? I'd be interested in knowing.

Thanks very much.